CHICAGO - Blue Demons host two-day tourney at the DePaul Athletic Center this weekend. Arkansas State, Eastern Washington and Western Michigan come to Chicago for fifth annual Moran Realty Classic.
2001 Moran Realty Classic
DePaul Athletic Center (3,000) - Chicago, Illinois
Friday, Nov. 16
Arkansas State vs. Western Michigan - 6 p.m.
DePaul vs. Eastern Washington - 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 17
Consolation - 6 p.m.
Championship - 8 p.m.
Doug Bruno and the Blue Demons kick off the 28th season of women's basketball at DePaul University with the annual Moran Realty Classic. The Blue Demons host Arkansas State, Eastern Washington and Western Michigan in the two-day event.
Arkansas State and Western Michigan open the tourney at 6 p.m. followed by the DePaul and Eastern Washington at 8 p.m. The Saturday schedule will have the consolation game at 6 p.m. and championship at 8 p.m.
DePaul won both exhibition contests over the Chicago Challengers, 117-60, and RTU Klondaika of Latvia, 96-79.
Nov. 4 vs. Chicago Challengers
Seven players in double-figures and a 34-8 second half run proved to be too much as the Blue Demons defeated the Challengers on Nov. 4. Lenae Williams led the way with a game-high 32 points while Sarah Kustok scored 17 and Laura Sobieszczyk added 16 points for DePaul. Others in double-figures included Yolanda Lewis with 11 points and freshman Jenni Dant and Lindsay Forsberg with 10 points each. Freshman Khara Smith had an impressive debut recording a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
After taking a 45-30 lead at halftime, the Blue Demons shot .703 from the field in the second half and outscored the Challengers, 72-30. DePaul lead grew to as large as 60 points before a three-pointer by the Challengers at the buzzer.
Nov. 7 vs. RTU Klondaika
Against RTU Klondaika, three freshmen provided the spark. Jenni Dant poured in a team-high 24 points while Khara Smith registered her second double-double in as many games with 13 points and 11 boards. Lindsay Forsberg also came off the bench to drop in 10 points with a team-high five assists.
DePaul fell behind early in the first half, Dant and Smith combined for 12 points during a 20-7 run that gave the Blue Demons a 26-16 lead with 10:33 left. From there DePaul took a 56-34 advantage to the locker room at halftime.
The second stanza was played even as RTU Klondaika outscored the Blue Demons, 45-40. However, the Latvians could only get as close as 93-79 with 14 seconds remaining in the game.
In the annual Conference USA preseason poll, the Blue Demons were picked to finish seventh. This season, C-USA will have one 14-team division instead of the American and National divisions as in previous years.
Senior forward Lenae Williams was one of six players named preseason All-Conference USA. She alse earned the honor prior to last seaason.
2001-02 C-USA Preseason Poll
10. Southern Miss
12. Saint Louis
13. East Carolina
14. South Florida
Preseason All-Conference Team
*Deanna Jackson – UAB, Sr., F
Chandi Jones – Houston, So., G/F
Valerie King – Cincinnati, So., G
Teana McKiver - Tulane, Jr., C
Sara Nord - Louisville, So., G
Lenae Williams - DePaul, Sr., F
* Preseason Player of the Year
DePaul returns six players from last year's 18-14 WNIT team that lost to eventual champion Ohio State in the second round. Of the seven returners, six played in at least 20 games last season. The Blue Demons also return three players that started at least 10 games a year ago.
All Roads Lead to Chicago
The DePaul Athletic Center will be the site of the 2002 Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament. The 12-team tourney will be Mar. 1-4 in Chicago. The winner receives the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tulane won its third straight conference tournament last year while the Blue Demons reached the semifinals before falling to Cincinnati.
In addition to the usual loss and addition of players, the DePaul coaching staff saw a trio of changes during the offseason. Maggie Dixon and Candis Blankson replaced Corry Carter and Andre Wakefield as assistant coaches. Jana Mathis was hired over the summer to fill the Director of Basketball Operations position left open when Dixon assumed the assistant role. Also, just before the start of practice, Lisa Ryckbosch was named Associate Head Coach after serving as an assistant for the past 10 seasons.
On the roster, the program welcomes six new players to the roster. Freshmen Jenni Dant, Lindsay Forsberg, Khara Smith and Claudette Towers join transfers Ashley Luke and Charlene Smith. Luke and Charlene Smith will have to sit out this season under NCAA transfer guidelines.
Of DePaul's 13 players on the roster, 11 come from the Chicagoland area. Only Forsberg, from Tulsa, Okla., and Jamie Smith from Springfield, Ill., are from outside Chicago.
Sharpshooter Lenae Williams is back for her senior season as one of the top players in Conference USA. Arguably one of the most explosive scorers in the country, Williams set school and league records last season with 237 career three-pointers and 653 career three-point attempts. She finished the 2000-01 campaign ranked first in the league in three's per game (2.45 pg), second in free throw percentage (.827) and third in scoring (18.2).
Prior to the start of the season, CNNSI.com ranked DePaul's 2001-02 schedule as the toughest in the Midwest. The slate features six teams currently in the AP top 25 and five teams in the ESPN/USA Today rankings.
In addition to the team recognition, freshman guard Jenni Dant was listed as one of the "Five New Faces to Watch" in the region and was the only player of the five not from either the Big Ten or Big 12 conferences.
Jenni Dant's Jersey in Ring of Honor
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame has recently added DePaul freshman Jenni Dant's jersey to their Ring of Honor. The Ring of Honor recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of high school and collegiate All-Americans. The former Stevenson High School standout is in an exclusive group of 40 young women from across the country to have their jerseys currently displayed at the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in downtown Knoxville, Tenn., is the world's only hall of fame dedicated solely to the athletic achievements of women. Visitors are treated to such exhibits as a riveting video showcasing the history of the women's game, memorabilia from more than 100 years of basketball, inspirational halftime speeches from legendary coaches, a number of interactive exhibits and an opportunity for visitors to showcase their talents.
Latasha White Out For the Season
Prior to the start of practice, senior forward Latasha White injured her left knee and will miss the 2001-02 season. Last season, the junior college transfer averaged 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds per game. She played in 21 games for the Blue Demons a year ago.